If you’re a passionate go-getter, you want to stand out at work. You’re looking for opportunities to improve, take on more responsibility, and show your boss that you’re a valuable asset to the team. But if everyone else is doing the same, how do you stand out from your co-workers?
We asked a group of founders from YEC—CEOs who manage teams of motivated individuals—what they wish all of their employees would start doing more of, and why. While their answers ranged, they all gave valuable advice that’s so easy to implement, you can start impressing your boss tomorrow.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Share Ideas
I wish my employees would come to me with their insights and ideas more often without first having to be asked. They are the ones in the trenches and are a fountain of valuable information, though they may not realize it. Even if an idea or insight is not fully baked, it helps generate more innovation among team members and may lead to an idea we can execute on.
2. Think Like an Entrepreneur
Most great entrepreneurs are problem solvers by nature, meaning they’re always coming up with new ways to overcome unexpected hurdles. This is an invaluable mindset that I wish more employees possessed. I’ll always favor an employee who tries to solve a problem him or herself—even if it leads to a mistake—over one who is constantly taking me or taking someone else off task to ask for advice.
3. Invest in Yourself
Learning and growth shouldn’t be a factor of the job they’re doing, rather it should be an investment of time in learning over and above what they get in a job. Spend the time to acquire a new skill or improve one within the same industry. There’s just so much to gain from peers and experts—keep learning and growing and this in turn will reflect work and career growth.
4. Read More
Dollar for dollar, books are the best value money can buy. Best of all, that knowledge can be passed on and shared once you’re done with it. If my team doubled the amount of books they read, I’d be ecstatic. It doesn’t matter if the books are non-fiction or romance novels, as long as they are expanding their outlooks and enriching their minds.
5. Exercise at Work (Really!)
Exercise is by far the best way to improve productivity and mood. I have absolutely no problem if an employee needs to step away from their desk and go for a walk outside to recharge, or if they want to change their work schedule to accommodate dance classes, marathon training, or anything else. The payoff in terms of their cognitive performance, energy levels, morale, and overall health is huge.
6. Offer Feedback
I’d love to hear more feedback, hands down. I wish everybody would give each other more feedback, and that everyone would have the level of trust necessary to give and receive timely feedback. When we give it, we invest in each other—and I believe people are worth that investment. And without it, we repeat mistakes, aggravate each other unnecessarily, and miss obvious win/win scenarios.
7. Fail Frequently
I once told a senior manager that he would only be successful if he failed every single day. Through failure, and only through failure, can people learn on their own—independent from top-down directives and groupthink. If everyone came to work and tried new ideas and iterated on process, we could move much faster than waiting until one or two senior people give direction on what to try next.
8. Understand the Importance of Perspective and Attitude
In our company, we encourage employees to always find a better way. This is one of our core values,and it implies trying new things and not always getting it right the first time. Having an optimistic perspective and a positive, problem-solving attitude is crucial to commit yourself to this core value and to truly enjoy and have fun at work.
9. Communicate Your Challenges
Although we have an open and honest communication policy, it would be great if employees took the initiative to communicate the challenges they are facing more freely. If I find out after the fact that they were struggling with a project or a deadline, I can’t do much about it. However, if they communicate challenges with me right away, I can solve them to make sure they are happy and productive.